Infrastructure and funding identified as key challenges facing development of local medical research sector

April 16, 2014 10:00 am

A group of renowned international and local biomedical scientists gathered at Al Jalila Foundation’s inaugural research symposium, which was held last week at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Academic Medical Center. They discussed their latest research findings in cardiovascular diseases, cancer and mental health in line with some of the research focus areas identified in the Foundation’s medical research strategy as the main health challenges facing the UAE and the region.

The symposium was led by Professor Sehamuddin Galadari, Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Cell Biology and Academic & Research Advisor of Al Jalila Foundation. The speaker list comprised a number of prominent international scientists including Professor Yusuf Hannun, Director of the Stony Brook Cancer Center and Joel Kenny Professor of Medicine in the US; Professor Pann-Ghill Suh, Vice President of Research Affair, Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) in Korea; and Professor Lina Obeid, Dean of Research and Professor of Medicine at the Stony Brook University in the US.

Professor Yusuf Hannun, an internationally-acclaimed researcher whose contributions in lipid biology opened up new fields of investigations in cancer therapeutics, said, “Al Jalila Foundation is blazing a trail in medical research and is on track to become a biomedical research hub. As a forward thinking country, inspired by visionary leadership, the UAE has all it takes to place itself on the global map for medical research. The talent that I saw in Dubai is at par with developed countries in the west; what is needed now is an environment where they can progress their thinking and capabilities.”

The symposium featured a panel discussion entitled ‘Biomedical Research: Challenges & Opportunities in the Region’, comprising regulators, and local and international scientists. The panel identified infrastructure and funding as the major challenges facing the development of a thriving medical research sector in Dubai.

“Our biomedical research symposium brought together all the right elements to deliver a well-rounded view of where Dubai can get to as a medical research hub,” said Professor Galadari. “We had examples of international scientists, some of Arab origin, who have achieved revolutionary research in different fields. We also had local champions of biomedical science and PhD students with promising futures in the field. All in all, the symposium created an inspiring platform for networking and knowledge sharing, and we are pleased with the collaborations that were established between scientists in the UAE, US and Korea around research projects of mutual interest,” Professor Galadari added.

Dr Abdulkareem Sultan Al Olama, CEO, Al Jalila Foundation, said, “Developing effective medical research is a long-term process that requires years of investment and talent development, and we are proud to be planting the seeds today to deliver on the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed. Al Jalila Foundation aims to inspire the nation’s youth to enter the medical research field with the guidance of world-class biomedical researchers.”

The symposium coincided with the launch of Al Jalila Foundation Research Centre by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The Research Centre is the first independent centre in the UAE and will focus on five regional health challenges: diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and mental health. Estimated at an investment of Dhs100m, the centre is expected to open in 2016 and located at Dubai Healthcare City.

In his role as Academic & Research Advisor of Al Jalila Foundation, Professor Galadari will drive the Foundation’s medical research strategy which aims to create a sustainable research platform in the UAE by developing national resources and capabilities on par with international standards.

Internationally-renowned Professor Galadari brings a wealth of philanthropic, scientific, medical and Board-level expertise to Al Jalila Foundation. His extensive experience spans a strong variety of prominent organisations, including Dubai Harvard Foundation for Medical Research, Dubai Healthcare City Authority, Emirates Foundation, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Medical Sciences, among others. He was the Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Studies at the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) and is currently the Advisor to the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at UAEU. Professor Galadari, a graduate of Imperial College London, is a Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Cell Biology at the College of Medicine and Health Sciences at UAEU.

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